Get to know the candidates: Gretchen Whitmer

LANSING, Mich.-- Two cups of coffee at 5 a.m. each day get Gretchen Whitmer (D) ready for a day of campaigning, which by Memorial Day had already taken her to all 83 Michigan counties.

FOX 17 will be bringing viewers features on each major candidate for governor through an in-depth, personal look at the people behind the ballot. Whitmer is the latest candidate in the series.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of family affair and it’s great,” Whitmer says.

Whitmer's two teenage daughters will soon be joining her on the campaign trail during their summer break.

“I think it’s really important for them to see me, especially with daughters, see me dig in and fight and do what I think is the right thing to do," Whitmer tells FOX 17.

She says her daughters are a major inspiration in her bid for governor.

“Kind of like what we’re seeing in Parkland and from young people all across our country, they’ve gotten engaged in a way that I didn’t at that age and it gives me such great hope and optimism for the future," Whitmer says.

Spending most of her childhood in Grand Rapids, Whitmer's fondest memories are fishing and spending time on the water, which put the current PFAS crisis in Kent county close to her heart.

“We keep making mistakes that threaten our way of life and that’s something that scares me and that’s a duty that I take very seriously as someone who wants this state to be beautiful and a place where I want my kids to make their lives and I want that for all kids in our state," Whitmer says.

Later in life, Whitmer started at Michigan State University wanting to be a sports broadcaster but when an internship at the state capitol exposed her to life in the legislature, she made new plans.

“It changed everything for me," Whitmer says. "I became passionate about public policy. I saw why it’s so important that our voices are a part of the debate and how fortunate we were to have some strong leaders and why it’s so necessary that we all stay engaged in politics and I never looked back.”

After reaching her term limit in the State Senate, Whitmer served in the Ingham County prosecutor's office, where she realized something about herself very quickly.

“I just have no patience for people that want to politicize problems instead of solve things," Whitmer says.

Whitmer says as she travels across the state meeting voters, their fundamental issues cross party lines.

“I ask people all the time, ‘If there are three things that you need me to fix or are standing in your way of accomplishing your goals, what are they?’ And often it is, ‘I don’t have clean drinking water,’ or ‘I don’t have affordable car insurance,’ or ‘Roads that keep us safe, so I stopped paying to fix my car,’ These are the fundamentals," Whitmer says.

Whitmer says her determination ultimately stems from the two girls joining her on the campaign trail this summer.

“I’m a mom and I wake up every day thinking about what can I do to make sure that my kids are gonna thrive and as a governor," Whitmer says. "I’m gonna work like that for every child and every family in this state.”

The Michigan primary election is August 7.

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